The Unhealthy United States Government

The Return of the Goddess Reason by Darwin Leon

THE UNHEALTHY UNITED STATES CONGRESS

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

17 July 2017 Miami Beach


The well has been poisoned. The present government is unhealthy. It is an enemy of the people at large and a friend to the power elite. Measures can be taken to restore it to health.

The struggle by a minority of Republican Congressmen to build a slim partisan majority to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act legislated by Democrats, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority or supermajority of the people oppose repeal, and also adamantly oppose replacement in the mean form proposed, exposes the naked truth about the current government, that it and its president is unpopular and therefore unstable, and is not a government by and for the people at large although they are theoretically responsible for it.

Fashions in politics can be as fickle as in clothes. Popularity is not always wonderful, for power does corrupt, wherefore majorities may be tyrannical and foster totalitarian governments.

Supermajorities protect the people against political whims in government, especially where basic human needs are at stake. The most fundamental need is health, and for that we need mutual care from birth to death.

Without health, life and liberty and property, not to mention happiness, whatever that may be, is at risk. We love our freedoms, as if we were all kings and queens in private domains. Yet those domains are by no means isolate.

Freedom is not an empty concept: We want freedom from impediments like tyranny, poverty, disease, and so on. Health care legislation is, as it were, a treaty that we as individuals have with each other, that we will come to the aid of one other when attacked by diseases, injuries, and old age.

Health is therefore not only a personal matter but is a vital collective concern. And it is so personal for everyone that the success of humanity depends on the personal health of every person. Legislation in that regard is so important that both the whole and the part should be secured by a healthy consensus so that simple slim majorities do not give things one day and take them away the next.

The United States is presently subject to a minority government that would be dismissed and a new election called for if its Constitution were amended to invoke a cabinet system of government led by a prime minister selected by the majority party or a risky coalition. That amendment would have to be proposed by either two-thirds of both houses of Congress or two-thirds of the states, and then be ratified by the legislatures or constitutional conventions of three-fourths of the states.

The drafters of the U.S. Constitution were wise to require a supermajority for fundamental acts, in this case to change the framework of the architecture for government. The Constitution also calls for a two-thirds supermajority for treaty ratification, expulsion from Congress, forgiveness of rebellions, impeachment conviction, restoration of authority to a president suspended for inability to perform his duties, and the override of a Presidential veto.

The American electorate has not been wise, however, to retain the vestiges of the tyranny against which the founders revolted, in the form of a temporary king in the president and the House of Lords in the Senate.

The mother country with its unwritten constitution has advanced since the invention of steam engines and automobiles. The Queen and Lords are respected, and at least two-thirds of subjects must have them to be British, yet Commons rules, and royalty and nobility is not an impediment to the people’s will or a check on the Commons except for the influence of respected opinions.

The United States does not need the Senate, whose members represent state elites and not the popular electorate, to check the famous madness of the members of the House of Representatives, who are supposed to represent the crowd the best they can. Under the present system they must do their best to keep the crowed deceived to maintain their seats. They too have been sickened by the poison flowing into the well from special interests.

The Senate loves to think of itself as a deliberative body of One Hundred Dignitaries, who slow things down by careful consideration based on reasoned debate, stall for amendments, or kill bills submitted by the House. That well has been polluted, not only by the almighty dollar they must constantly hustle for, but by mean partisanship sponsored by naturally selfish donors who have lots of money to invest in politics. It was thought that corruption would be more obvious in that noble house given fewer members, and it certainly is, but what are they to do for money until people can vote online so that votes and not dollars are the only political currency?

Wait a minute! What about the supermajority tradition of the Senate? What about the 60% needed to stifle the opposition from blocking bills and motions to even consider them? Forget about that. It is not yet in the Constitution or a statute. The Constitution says each house of Congress can make its own rules; they can do that at any time no matter what academics say.

The key word is “reconciliation.” There is a statute that allows for a simple majority to reconcile differences between the House and Senate in fiscal legislation. Why not stick anything which has to do with money, which is everything, into a reconciliation bill? The Byrd amendment to the statute provides that reconciliation bill may not include provisions that increase deficits ten years after the reconciliation. Senator Byrd sponsored the amendment because President Clinton wanted to rely on budget reconciliation to pass a 1993 health care plan.

Now the sponsors of the 2017 Better Care Reconciliation Act to replace the 2010 Health Care and Reconciliation Act, which was tacked onto the 2009 Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009 passed by the House 416-0 and approved 219-212 by the Senate after its health care amendment, do not want the nonpartisan budget office to review the half-baked repeal and quasi-amendment bill before voting on it—the House also skipped that input before voting on the bill it passed, and passed the buck to the Senate.

No, the Senate prefers to rely upon White House agencies for fiscal analysis including predictions of deficits. The President is pushing repeal and replace, and will be delighted to vindictively sign the legislation, cast by Democrats and some Republicans as a handout to the rich at the cost of the sick, poor, not to mention the middle class.

Many are those who are not in a charitable mood. The extent of our selfishness depends on how much we have; that is, the margin we have above our needs, and we think many of our wants are needs, say, that beer money if not the two cars in the garage. The extension of Medicare is quite frankly unpopular except among those who need it and the likes of Warren Buffet and other welfare capitalists.

To support relief to the wealthy during the currently prosperous time for them, the White House claims that the Congressional Budget Office was all wrong in its assessment of the consequences of Obamacare, that not enough have signed up for insurance under the Individual Mandate to spread the risk, so the insurance companies, to protect their vast coffers, are jacking up premiums or dropping out of the market.

The truth of the matter is that people, especially young and healthy ones, do not like to pay the fines required if they choose not to buy insurance. They would rather take the risk of an unexpected accident or illness, which might drive them into bankruptcy and force the public to pick up the medical tab anyway. Thus is the risk spread anyhow.

It is more than obvious to every logical person that the solution to this squabble, in terms of replacement, is a single-payer, Medicare-like plan, with benefits similar to those enjoyed by the Senators in their government plan. Then the United States could join other civilized countries with national health care plans. But reason goes down the drain with big deductions from earned income.

Whatever is done on the issue so vital not only to the survival of the nation but to the people should not be done lightly. That is, it should be done with their consent, and with a consensus.

Do you trust a simple majority in Congress and the President of the United States with your life in this vital matter? Only 30% do at this juncture.

Major health care legislation should be submitted to the people in a referendum that requires a supermajority. Let the people be a check on Congress in advance so they do not have to show up in the halls of Congress, as in this case, to demonstrate on crutches and in wheelchairs. Amendments to that legislation should require a 60% majority in Congress.

Why not just a simple majority in a referendum? The crowd is wise but only with experience, and we should be more certain of ourselves before getting it, because then it might be too painful for everyone concerned.

Take, for example, Great Britain’s popular 1975 decision to remain in, and then the 2017 popular decision to exit, the European commonality.

The House of Commons had voted 395-170 to continue in Common Market under new terms; that action was confirmed by a nonbinding referendum, the nation’s first ever, held 5 June 1975, with turnout of 64% and huge majority of Yeas over Nays of 8,908,508. The Question put was, “Do you think that the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community (the Common Market)?” Labour split on the issue, breaching collective Cabinet responsibility, so votes in Commons were carried only with opposition support, i.e. the issue was nonpartisan. There was a 64% turnout, with a huge majority of 8,908,508 Yeas over Nays, wherefore the referendum was hailed as the biggest support for government ever, hence popular.

Critics, however, said the nation was dead, that it had relinquished its sovereignty. A document on the discussion of sovereignty in parliament, kept secret for thirty years under the Thirty Year Rule, disclosed that Parliament thought it advisable to put consideration of Power before Sovereignty.

That makes sense. Would the people rather have the sovereignty of North Korea, or even Switzerland, or the political and economic power of the United States? After all, with or without the power, they shall still have sovereignty over their culture, still be Americans or Cosmopolitans.

The governing House of Commons considered the EU matter settled for 40 years, and then the BREXIT movement, narrowly approved in a referendum by a margin of 52% in 2016 to exit, as compared to 67% or two-thirds to remain in 1975. The turnout was 72% in 2016, considerable more than the 64% to remain in 1975, but the margin of Yeas over Nays was very slim to exit in 2016, only 1,291,501, whereas the margin to remain in 1975 was 8,908,508.

Now, then, before the feat has been fully accomplished, the British have had second thoughts due to bad experiences, foreboding even worse to come as the rest of Europe goes merrily on its way, so BREXIT may be reversed despite the strong nationalist feelings.

It is high time that the people of the United States take legislation into their own hands, purge Congress of its poison, and provide preventative, structural measures for their own sake. As it stands, almost everyone agrees that it is sick, and doom must be prophesied to invoke a cure. The cure can only come from people at large, who must themselves be healed, because the disease in their representatives begins with them.

xYx

The Revolutionary French Macron

macron

THE REVOLUTIONARY MACRÕN

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

July 14, 2017

‘Macron’ now means something more than a diacritical mark elongating vowels. The term presently purports revolution, the long-awaited revolution fomented by Immanuel Macron, the newly elected President of France, who convened Parliament at Versailles for a grandiloquent proclamation of reactionary principles for France: Efficiency, Representivity, and Responsibility.

Consequently Macron is ridiculed as a pretender to the throne of France as well as the revolutionary antidote to monarchy. But insiders who liken him to counter-revolutionary Napoleon Bonaparte draw a better likening.

Nevertheless, there is a whiff of liberal revolution, the overthrow of The System, a razing of a labyrinthine, Kafkaesque superstructure, and a return to primitive foundations, the retrograde movement towards radical roots that gave Hegel cause to revamp his dialectical musings as he feared the spread of the Revolution of revolutions, the French Revolution, to his native country.

True, Macron eschews violent overthrows of government, and he is not yet a dictator, but radical reform may gather momentum and go too far, for we know that the most efficient way to hold humans responsible is to cart them off to the scaffold for humane disposition.

In any case, he would export his counter-revolution to the world. He called upon Citizens to change their cynical attitudes so that France can be “the center of a new humanist project for the world.”

The United States of America, which has suffered the dialectic of the French Revolution within the American Revolution since the Declaration of Independence, is no longer the Beacon on the Hill that it once was. Yes, Americans, like the French, are “divided,” yet that is really nothing new since every in-dividual is theoretically divided from birth by the radical Me/We antagonism from which organizational conflicts evolve. The collective secures us so we love it, and that love is often based on the fear therefore hatred of others, for other collectives are a threat. We will wage war with France or other nations if they take the wrong side. So what is the global or catholic solution?

Macron believes inefficient organization is the obstacle to Life, Liberty, and Property—the last term was changed to Happiness in America. He does not preach Love as the solution, but material reorganization on scientific principles, as if politics, economics, sociology, and so on are really sciences the study of which can produce predictable outcomes. No less than Thomas Jefferson was swayed by that attitude on his visit to France during the Revolution there, which he blamed on Marie Antoinette. Jefferson fell in with the Ideologues, and became so enthused by the ideology of social science borrowed from physics that he replaced Theology with Ideology at his beloved university in Virginia upon his return to the states.

That being said, Macron is certainly not a materialist, for he exerts mind over matter, with thoughts “too complex for journalists” to understand, he said, when explaining why he would not make a traditional Bastille Day speech. We cannot read his mind, but we think a counter-revolutionary prejudice dissuaded him. We suppose he had contemplated the popular storming of the Bastille, a prison where the monarchy kept its political prisoners, although there were only seven inmates at the time. Upwards of two hundred revolutionaries were killed, and the superintendant of the jail was beheaded—one story claims his heart was ripped out and eaten. The recent terrorist attack in Nice on Bastille Day will never be forgotten. Such terrifying events tend to unify France, but for a sophisticate like Macron, they are in themselves repugnant.

Indeed, his thoughts are so complex that his approach to unity was described as “mystical.” His Versailles speech was short on details, as is typical with inspiring, high-flown rhetoric. The nation would realize the principles of Efficiency, Representation, and Responsibility by virtue of a social contract with the people.

That contract would apparently be in the underlying spirit of Jean-Jacque Rousseau’s Du contrat social of 1762, which differs somewhat from John Locke’s The Second Treatise of Government, claimed to be a foundational document for political theory in the fledgling United States, which really did not have much of a theory because its history was virtually new, and reading the Bible and the biographies of its founding fathers sufficed for knowing what to do.

According to Locke, people would be moved by natural law to form a government to defend life, liberty and property, and their freedom would be guaranteed the constitutional contract for representative government. Locke puts the state over the individuals consenting to it as “one body, with a power to act as one body, which is only by the will and determination of the majority; for that which acts any community being only the consent of the individuals of it, and it being necessary to that which is one body to move one way, it is necessary the body should move that way whither the greater force carries it, which is the consent of the majority.”

With Locke we have an overwhelming power of numbers, and, since a great number of people may not consent to the acts of a majority, the possibility of the tyranny of the majority of representatives beholden not to the people at large but to factions and special interests. The solution as always is the right of people to overthrow “their” government, and good luck to them with that project.

Rousseau would have the people directly represent themselves with the guidance of a charismatic leader in accordance with the impetus of the universal ‘We’ of all individuals, namely, the mystical General Will. That man must be Macron, and presumably the General Will would be done even if his reforms are obstructed because he will call for a referendum to effect them.

Macron declared to the Parliament order to Versailles that from efficiency, representivity, and responsibility he wants a “contractual republic” to emerge, a contract between citizens and the republic, a direct relationship that has been destroyed by the mechanical exercises of parliament. For one thing, he would reduce the number of representatives in both houses, which now number well over 900, by a third. Simple laws could be made by parliamentary commissions instead of in full sessions.

Legislation must be streamlined to address pressing issues and suit the changing needs of the people. Lawmakers should draft laws more quickly and legislate less. We might add that, if a contradiction lies therein, never mind, for it is, as Luther once famously said of self-contradictory theology, one of God’s mysteries.

Rather than debate over whether or not merely changing an organizational form can save people of different cultures from themselves, let us presume that our present constitution or architecture of government, which we believe is better than the Constitution of France although there are archaic similarities, is not the best at present because times have changed.

Taking the cue from Macron in France, we have known for some time that the members of the United States Congress have lost touch with the people of the United States. There is no real or mystical bond between the government and the people. The people are represented well only intermittently, and then by a minority able to persuade special interests to go along. The Congress has been poisoned. It has become the enemy of the people. It is the de facto cabinet of the privileged elite, a small minority that has sway over the vast multitude whose freedom has become an institutional prison.

So where is our charismatic efficiency expert, and what would he recommend to amend our constitution? He is no Macron, for he would enjoy consorting with workers in their dining establishments and union halls, and attend well to the welfare of the disadvantaged, hopefully investing in Louis Blanc’s national workshops. If they are to be responsible, they must have the means. He has already said he would free people from the straightjackets of their cultural origins, but he had better watch his step there, and observe how many revolutions Chinese culture has survived.

Our own long-awaited Macron would recommend, for example, abolishing the United States Senate as a “check” upon the so-called democratic House of Representatives. The nobles should get down off their high horses and sit with the people. If a check is needed, that check should be the people in an electronic referendum.

Modest cabinet amendments to the wording of our Constitution would render the legislature and the president immediately responsible to the majority of representatives, who could with a vote of no confidence dismiss the cabinet with its president and call for a new election. In fact, that might be done today if we had the amendment, but then again, perhaps not, for the representatives might really represent us with a two-thirds consensus in major matters.

xYx

Rights of Man 1789  – 2. The aim of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression

Healthcare is Poisoned

THE WELL HAS BEEN POISONED

BY
DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

 

The Well. The town may be changed,
But the well cannot be changed,
It neither decreases nor increases.
They come and go and draw from the well.
If one gets down almost to the water
And the rope does not go all the way,
Or the jug breaks, it brings misfortune.

The founders of the United States were not saints. They warned us that factions would spoil the nation with tyranny, and that has become especially true with the culmination of the continuous effort of a minority political faction to repeal or replace instead of improve the hard-won Affordable Health Care Act of 2010 despite the wishes of an overwhelming majority of constituents.

What folly! How such fools were elected in the first place except by fools is a wonder. It is a bitter pill to swallow that we deserve the leaders we elect.

Health is the most vital concern one can have, essential to life therefore liberty and happiness, yet the American version of the House of Lords, in collusion with an uncommon version of the House of Commons, would, by taking away what was previously given as a privilege although it should be a right to live, condemn millions of people to poverty disease and untimely death, all for the sake of more money in the pockets of the wealthy factions whom they serve.

Ironically, Warren Buffet, one of the wealthiest old men living, says he does not need the money, that he is quite satisfied living in the same old house on a hundred-grand or so a year, and contributing his good fortune to charity.

We have in mind an image, water over wood, the image of The Well, and the Superior Man encouraging the people at their work, exhorting them to help one another. But the image may not materialize under the Inferior Man, and it is prophesied that neither people nor animals can drink from this old well. The jug breaks as we try to pull it from the mud. There are a few fish in the well hole, so we may shoot at them in vain, hence the old adage that shooting fish in a barrel is not easy. Note that arrows were meant in those days, for today the repercussions from a bullet fired into a barrel would kill all the fish therein after hitting only ten-percent of them.

The tragedy here is that a clean healthcare well, a national health care program such as those enjoyed in civilized countries, was proposed before it was contaminated by greed. It is called here a single-payer or Medicare-like plan. Everyone would have major medical insurance at least. There might be co-pays for people who could afford them. And people could buy supplemental insurance. Yes, of course, individuals would be mandated to chip into the fund as part of their social security contribution, and the deduction based on their earnings would show on their paychecks or tax returns. Let them complain if the deduction is too high, and rid the system of fraud, greed, and waste.

But even the Democrats would not drink from a clean well because our political system is inherently corrupt. They were too busy spending most of the day raising funds from the special interests to remain in power.

But wait! It is not too late to line the well to protect it from leaking and poisons. We imagine a clear, cold stream replenishing the well, from which everyone can now drink.

Perhaps then we may not blame the politicians for poisoning our well. Do we realize how difficult it is for a politician to raise money for a factitious campaign platform and walk a high wire with thousands of people pushing one way or another for something or the other? No less than Carl Schmidt noted that, given the conflicting interests, the only way politicians could get anything done is to lie.

Sure, some politicians can get away with integrity from time to time, but the system is damned. Why revere systematic corruption because it is traditional? The Constitution has served us well at times, but times have radically changed and it needs amendment or replacement. No? Then why not go back to horses and buggies and death at 35-years of age or less?

If we are interested in our health as a nation, we need to reform not only the healthcare system and morality of our people; we need to radically reform the architecture of our government. That much has become increasingly clear.

Yes, our forefathers were wise, even wiser than we are, blinded as we have become by our institutions. There has been little or no progress in fundamental morality per se and the basic motives of our kind for thousands of years, so people still hold the original texts sacred. What has changed is technology, and that presents an immense possibility for ethical improvement, so that we may in all ways go where no man has gone before in our approach to the good of humankind.

Making those improvements we may draw from The Well without hindrance because it is once again dependable. Supreme Good Fortune.

 
 
 
 

 

City Debate Harpy Craps Out On WordPress Article

City Debate Logo – Fair Comment
 
 
A CITY DEBATE HARPY CRAPS OUT
By David Arthur Walters

July 9, 2017

I normally do not stoop to responding to anonymous social media harpies who dedicate themselves to fouling the nests of authors whose work they are inordinately jealous of and who are most likely political operatives of officials ashamed to identify themselves in such a despicable manner, but these droppings on my article (WORDPRESS: ‘Miami Beach Wages War On Black Week’) received from J.P. Morgan’s Miami Beach ‘City Debate’ is well worth addressing and repeating because they are a joke on whoever penned and published the comment, and illustrates just how ridiculously vacuous alternative facts can be:

“Whoever fed you this story must be staying in the bars themselves too long. The only factual part of the story is you got all the spelling correct. It’s obvious you were not in this Saturday during the periods of time you talk about as you have it all wrong, however, I will give you Credit that some of the things you have said did occur however in a different way and different time. CITY DEBATE”

That blank sort of baseless denial of facts is what passes for participation in debate nowadays, and this precious instance of it is certainly laughable. Indeed, it really cheered me up, pathetic as it is. I am once again laughing out loud! Thank you, harpy, for your self-portrait.
 
MIAMI BEACH WAGES WAR ON BLACK WEEK

Social Media Harpies and Magpies!

The Individual Mandate & Political Poison

4697b-surgery

THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE & POLITICAL POISON

By David Arthur Walters

PRESS INDEPENDENT

July 7, 2017 Miami Beach

Nothing is more obvious than the fact that Americans today are governed by a self-serving leadership faction and have once again been forgotten by their Congress due to unbridled political partisanship.

Take for example the continuous effort to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act.

Republican leaders want payback for having Obamacare foisted upon them by a Democratic majority in 2010. Repealing it, no matter what the effect a repeal would have on their constituents, has priority over reforming it or simply replacing it with a single-payer national healthcare system with benefits similar to those they enjoy under their own plan.

Younger, healthier people or those who do not anticipate needing potentially ruinous medical care anytime soon do not appreciate the individual mandate forcing them to buy insurance or pay a fine in order to spread the risk. If they unexpectedly wind up in the hospital and their funds are exhausted, then let them go bankrupt and the public pay the expense, which will by far exceed the fine, because they were unwilling to buy insurance when they were healthy.

While a leading minority of Senate Republicans struggle to kill Obamacare, orders have been issued not to enforce the individual mandate. Vengeance is ours, say the faux-republican faction, after scores of failed attempts to rid the nation of Obamacare and other successes they perceive as blackening the nation, after the nation was saved from the Great Recession and probable Depression and fascist consequences by the man they love to hate even after he has been replaced.

Unsurprisingly, given the insane rivalry currently sponsored by the nation’s political teapots, the individual mandate was originally a nonpartisan feature championed by reasonable Republicans. After all, national health care acts would be doomed to failure without the mandate requiring all persons not exempted for hardship to buy coverage or pay a tax to replenish the fund for at least some of the premiums they withheld. Clearly, unless everyone pays something before they need health care, the overall plan will become lopsided and go into a “death spiral” due to inadequate funding.

In 1989 Republican senators championed an individual mandate as a market-based approach, as outlined by the conservative Heritage Foundation. The idea is that every capable individual should be responsible for their health care. In 1993 President Bill Clinton proposed an employer mandate for employers to provide health insurance to all employees, but Republican Senators wanted an individual mandate, not an employer mandate, and Clinton’s plan failed. A Republican alternative introduced in 1993 by Republican Senator John Chafee, famed for his bipartisanship, included a requirement for universal coverage with an individual mandate. In 1994 Republican Senator Don Nickles’ original proposal included an individual mandate with a penalty provision. And Mark Pauly developed a proposal including an individual mandate for President George H. W. Bush.

In 2007 Republican Senator Bob Bennett and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden introduced the Healthy Americans Act, which featured an individual mandate, but the proposal did not get beyond the committee level. Governor Mitt Romney was praised by Senator Jim DeMint for his conservative ideas, and the presidential candidate said he was proud of Massachusetts’ health care plan including its individual mandate. Indeed, Democrats sided with Republicans on the individual mandate and other features, and the Massachusetts’ plan was a kind of template for what ensued, the Affordable Health Care Act of 2010.

Constitutional issues with the mandate were not broached by Republicans. The penalty was believed to be a tax, not a premium forced on people. With Obamacare, Republicans would argue that the bill was in effect a tax bill that should have originated in the House, but it had actually originated in the Senate in the guise of an amendment to an unrelated tax bill sent over by the House, rendering the Act unconstitutional.

The most reasonable plan of all, at least in theory, would be a single-payer universal health care plan along the lines of those adopted by civilized countries. But democratic republicanism does not work that way in the United States, which is poisoned by political factions beholden to special interests.

The main fault of Affordable Health Care Act of 2010 is that it is not a single-payer universal plan, although it is almost the best one can do without such national health care insurance. It may be tinkered with to overcome some of its current faults, but it shall always be plagued by its fundamental flaw.

For one thing, the Senate would have had to agree to the reasonable alternative and not enough votes could be mustered to overcome a filibuster in the Senate for such a “socialist” plan in order to bring the bill to a vote.

Yet now Republican senators may use the nuclear option, invoking the Constitutional right of each house of Congress to make its own rules, in order to repeal Obamacare, risking the lives of millions of people, with or without a replacement, giving the savings to wealthy people who do not need the money.

And they would do this while mouthing alternative facts and fake assessments to cover up the fact that their partisanship has made them a poison unto the people.

xYx

Healthcare and Sunshine – Congress is Critically Ill

West side view of the United States Capitol building.

HEALTHCARE AND SUNSHINE

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

Article I, section 5 of the United States Constitution clearly states that ‘‘each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings.’’ The senators and representatives are therefore expected to conduct the people’s business in the best manner possible, that is, efficiently and effectively in the interest of everyone concerned, and not in the special interests of factions.

It is to that end that the public business should be conducted publicly by Congress in all respects.  Yet from the time of its constitution we hear of backroom and cloakroom deals and closed committees where fundamental business is done in the dark by members who are evidently ashamed of their political factions. And we hear of working documents deliberately withheld for fear of criticism. They know that conspiring is inimical to the public interest, and that their objectives would not be realized if their behavior were transparent instead of opaque.

It is no wonder that the members of Congress, who are supposed to be representing the people at large, have established no ironclad rule or have not passed an effective law prohibiting such conduct on pain of expulsion or imprisonment unless the conspiring is justified by national security.  They are the enemy of the people as constituted. That is not to say that the people are any better at heart, for people deserve the leaders they elect.

Healthcare is vital to the public interest. Now the Democratic faction has complained that the Republican faction in the Senate secretly contrived a plan to repeal and replace so-called Obamacare with so-called Trumpcare. The plans are so-called because the members care more about the relative power of their respective parties and their prejudices than about the health and welfare of the American people.

There are admittedly problems with the Affordable Health Care Act that could be fixed in one way or another, perhaps with a single-payer, national health insurance program enjoyed by civilized nations. Otherwise the existing act could be tweaked. Most importantly, something could be done to convert mismanaged health care, conducted in the interest of providers and insurance companies, to managed health care, conducted in the interest of the human beings.

But no, Republicans, who are now in the majority, prefer to blame President Obama and his party for forcing a national health care act down their throats when they were a majority. Wherefore the House got a bill passed in public, but that bird will not fly in the Senate, so the Republican senators privately concocted their own plan, in secret, say the Democrats, along the lines of the purported theme of the Republicans ever since they eschewed Reconstruction in the South: rob the poor to pay the rich.

After the Republicans pulled the rabbit out of their top hat, Warren Buffet, the famous welfare capitalist, showed his tax return on Megyn Kelly’s new television program. He said the Republican bill would save him hundreds of thousands of dollars in one year, and he had friends who would save millions. He said he did not need the money. In fact, he claimed he likes to live in the same old house, that he could live nicely on a hundred-grand a year, and that he loves to apply his fortune to humanitarian causes rather than floating around in a multimillion-dollar super-yacht and so on.

Well, Republicans deny they are the greedy, racist party, and they make some good points about the faults in the bill they resent so much that they tried to get it repealed about fifty times. Whatever they do, let them do it publicly, and let not the pot call the kettle black because we all hail from the African continent regardless of our current birth certificates.

We recall that Republicans made the same complaint, about secret healthcare conventicles held after Barrack Obama was inaugurated in 2009.

For example, Dr. Michael C. Burgess, representing Texas, spoke at some length, on January 12 and March 10, 2010, on the lack of transparency, which he thought could be solved with a Minority Resolution of Inquiry, a tool that members have to ask for information they believe is being withheld from them needed to make an informed legislative resolution. He knew that his recommendation was futile, but he wanted to get his two cents in, and the media did take notice.

“Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue much as we have done over this past hour, talking about this same issue, the health care bill that is now before the House and Senate, even though none of us have seen the finished product, and what has happened on the issue of transparency over these past several weeks since the House adjourned in the middle of December.”

That sounds familiar today because the people have failed to discipline their senators and representatives so that all public business is conducted in public and that all documents are immediately available to anyone concerned.

“This bill has nothing to do with health care any longer…. This was, how do we get the outcome we want, which is to pass this bill? There is something wrong with the process when you say, ‘We can’t let you read it. We can’t wait. We’ve got to do it in a hurry. And oh, by the way, the benefits that are going to come to you off of this bill actually start in 2014. Your taxes will start next week….’”

Here we go again. Obviously something is wrong with the way business is conducted on Capitol Hill. The obstruction is augmented by supermajorities.

“This debate now has become an internal debate on the Democratic Party. We will continue to be blamed on the Republican side for obstructing this bill, but please understand there is nothing that we can do. We lack the numbers to stop this bill— supermajority in the House, a 60-vote majority in the Senate. All the Republicans can stay together and the bill still passes because we just simply do not have the numbers….”

The Senate is a de facto supermajoritarian institution because the rules allow that a bill can be held up forever by a filibuster unless 60 votes put an end to the delay.

The so-called nuclear option was deployed by Republicans so that the hurdle could be overcome and the nomination of Neil Gorsuch by President Trump could be confirmed by a simple majority. The nuclear exception to the 60-vote cloture rule had been created in 2013 by Democrats partly in response to Republican prejudices delaying the appointment of black judges.

The change in tradition may be a precedent for deploying the nuclear option to pass sweeping legislation such as national healthcare reform. In any event, the Senate’s structural reputation as a de facto nonpartisan institution has gone down the drain.

Arguably the supermajority rule should somehow be made permanent in such a way that it would apply to crucial public issues, such as health care bills; that is, the Republicans would not get their health care bill passed, characterized as “mean” by the President, who would not veto them no matter how mean, without a supermajority.

“The arguments that are going on right now are arguments entirely within the Democratic conference,” said Dr. Burgess. “And it is a conference committee, if you will, of the Democratic conference where they’re trying to work out the difference the Democrats have with Democrats over the bill, and ignore the Republicans—blame them, to be sure, because they’re useful to blame as being obstructionists, but realistically no Republican is obstructing or slowing down this bill. We can’t. We would like to, but we can’t.”

Dr. Burgess feared that he would not outlive the Affordable Health Care Act: “This is sweeping legislation that has a long half-life and is going to affect the way of life in this country from this day forward, really long past my time on this Earth, and I suspect a long time past the life expectancy of almost everyone who is serving in this body. So it is so important that we get this right. It is our obligation. It is the oath that we swore on this floor the early part of January of 2009 after those very famous elections, those historic elections that created the new Presidency, created a supermajority for Democrats in the House, created almost a filibuster-proof majority in the other body.”

Dr. Burgess noted that Barrack Obama’s approach sounded pretty good early on: “He said there was going to be a mandate to cover children. He said there was not going to be an employer mandate nor would there be an individual mandate, but that anyone who didn’t have insurance would be able to have insurance just as good as a Member of Congress under a program like the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program….”

But contingencies always arise that impact good intentions. The Great Recession presented huge budget problems, and then we had a flu epidemic, et cetera. A special Senate election may change the balance of votes. Coverage and cost had not been discussed during the campaign and after the inauguration, but now a cost of around a trillion dollars, was to be funded by increasing taxes on energy, and motorists back home already suffering from severe recession were outraged by expected increases in fuel costs.  There are backroom conspiracies, and the content of the bill is a mystery. After the bill is signed it will be up to an agency to make a myriad rules, and one administrator is in charge of that, yet that person has not been nominated and confirmed.

Dr. Burgess wrote a letter to President Obama on September 30, 2009, wherein he respectfully asked him for full disclosure of information on negotiations and agreements related to the national health care bill. The details would include among other things the names of the special interests.  A Resolution of Inquiry was filed on December 17, and here in January he is vainly telling the House what an important tool it is. Another important tool he and his colleagues extolled is C-SPAN. Yes, it may be boring because editors do not spin the proceedings into a story, but a free and democratic people must have public affairs aired, C-SPAN must be an option.

“The American people understand that C–SPAN is sunshine. C–SPAN represents good government. C–SPAN was the foil that the American people had against the excesses of a Presidential administration that overstepped its bounds and brought us the spectacle of Watergate and the crumbling of a Presidency. C–SPAN is the preventive medicine that keeps that from happening again in the future.”

Phil Gingrey of Georgia, speaking right before Burgess on January 12, thought he knew what the American people think about the whole affair:

“Here is what they think. I know the President knows this, and I know the Democratic majority knows this, and I know that’s why they want to pass this thing in the dark of night. They don’t want C–SPAN looking in. They don’t want Republicans looking in. They don’t want the American people looking in. They want to get out of that hole and get out of town. That’s what their plan is.”

Florence Nightingale, who was called “the prick in the side” of the power elite, would know what to do with the unhealthy Congress: she would open the windows to let in the light and fresh air, and she would scrub the place clean even though she did not believe in germs.

Michael Burgess is an obstetrician, born 1950. We hope he is not a hypocrite even though hypocrisy is the underlying crisis of humankind. Given reelection, good habits, genetics, health care, and intentions he may very well live long enough to assist the United States Congress in giving birth to a Sunshine or Open Window Law that will afford all inquirers insight into the workings of Congress. Until such a law is made, it shall remain the mortal enemy of the democratic republic.

xYx

2017 Miami Beach

How Great Can America Be?

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HOW GREAT CAN AMERICA BE?

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

I think therefore I am, I am what I think, and thought is the breath of my existence, so I did not realized that my spirit had been repressed into One Dimension until I was enlightened by Herbert Marcuse that:

“One-dimensional thought is systematically promoted by the makers of politics and their purveyors of mass information. Their universe of discourse is populated by self-validating hypotheses which, incessantly and monopolistically repeated, become hypnotic definitions or dictations.”

For example, Make America Great Again is being trumpeted to the high heavens of late by the Flimflam Man, about whom Nothing Greater Can Be Thought.  That is to say that This Great Nation of Ours is no longer great. And just how great was it, anyway?

Greatness in this once Great Nation of Ours must be as measureable as the Flimflam Man’s waistline. Quantity and not quality counts, and we are to use his presumably gargantuan tool as our measuring rod. Yet we have no way of knowing how long his ruler is, nor even its width or depth, as long as we are diminished in comparison to mere points, to live a one-dimensional, pinheaded, or windowless monadic existence in Pointland.

Intercourse in this totalitarian Universe of Discourse is naturally reduced to the most one can get with the least expenditure, and the producer is systematically attuned and atoned to the social product. The automaton no longer thinks about the social product; it thinks him. The Universe of Discourse, which is the sine qua non of human existence, is a manufactured system aka the Best of All Possible Systems and The American Way.

“The efficiency of the system blunts the individual’s recognition that it contains no facts which do not communicate the repressive power of the whole. If the individuals find themselves in the things which shape their life, the do so, not by giving, but by accepting the law of things—not the law of physics but the law of their society.”

“Thus emerges a pattern,” continues our perverse guru, “of one-dimensional thought and behavior in which ideas, aspirations, and objectives that, by their content, transcend the established universe of discourse and action are either repelled or reduced to terms of this universe. They are redefined by the rationality of the given system and of its quantitative extension.”
Can if be that the Flimflam Man is the only person who has emerged from One Dimensional existence? Is he the One to save us from the News of Reality that is faking us out?

I feel fortunate that I came across a copy of Professor Marcuse’s book at Kafka’s Kafé on South Beach before that absurd used bookstore and cafe was rationalized by The System.

I had, by the way, already managed to broaden my consciousness, from Pointland to Flatland.

I also encountered a few New Age books at Kafka’s, but they did not inspire me to stand up because the New Age is really a product of One-Dimensional Society.

“The reign of such a one-dimensional reality does not mean that materialism rules, and that the spiritual, metaphysical, and bohemian occupations are petering out. On the contrary, there is a great deal of ‘Worship together this week,’ ‘Why not try God,’ Zen, existentialism, and beat ways of life, etc. But such modes of protest and transcendence are no longer contradictory to the status quo and no longer negative. They are rather the ceremonial part of practical behaviorism, its harmless negation, and are quickly digested by the status quo as a healthy diet.”

Now there is no way to overcome repression without consciousness of repression, and then and only then can one become fully individuated as a three-dimensional entity via the fourth dimension, and therefore partially freed from the flattening gravity of circumstances.

Please stand by for the elevator.